Sinaloa ring tagged most powerful in the world
MEMBERS of a Mexican drug cartel called Sinaloa have been in the Philippines, with the help of Chinese and West African syndicates, the police said Thursday.
“We’ve seen they are just starting out. We need to act immediately to keep them out,” said Philippine National Police Dir. Gen. Alan Purisima.
“It is part of our investigation how the cartel was able to penetrate our country,” Purisima said.
Police confirmed the entry of the Sinaloa after a drug bust on Christmas Day that yielded about 84 kilos or P420 million worth of shabu. Police arrested Gary Tan, Argay Arenos and Rochelle Argenos in the LPL fighting cock ranch owned by former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste, in Barangay Inosloban, Lipa City.
Purisima said police were hunting one Jorge Torres, who rented the Leviste compound.
Purisima said he has already ordered legal experts to look into the liability of the compound’s owner.
“We are studying the possibility of confiscating [the compound] in favor of the government because it was used for the [illegal] drug business…but we all know they were just leasing the property and we will be consulting our lawyers,” Purisima said.
Based on their investigation, the Mexican cartel has dealings with the Chinese drug syndicates. “There is collusion, of course. That’s where they start, in partnership. One party will finance the operation, while the other will do the work,” he said.
Arturo Cacdac, director general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, said the Philippines is not the only Asian country being eyed by the Mexican drug syndicate.
“The cartel found Asia has a market for such drugs,” he said.
For every four years, there are 1.7 million people who use shabu and other types of drugs, PDEA said.
Cacdac said the drug traffickers have just started operating in the Philippines.
Chief Insp. Roque Merdegia, a spokesperson for the police Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, said two other suspects belonging to the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel – Jaime, a Mexican, and George Gomez Perez, an American – remained at large.
Police said Tan was reportedly working closely with Torres, a Filipino-American with a US passport to distribute drugs in the Philippines.
Senior Supt. Bartolome Tobias, head of the PNP’s Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, said some teams are already hunting down those involved in the operations of the Sinaloa.
“Previously, we had reports that the Mexicans were here…This is the first time that we have confirmed that Mexicans are already here,” Tobias said.
Tobias did not say how they knew the Sinaloa cartel was involved.
The spokesman of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Derrick Carreon, said the entry of the Mexican cartel was based on “intelligence reports” but did not elaborate.
The Mexican embassy declined to comment.
The Sinaloa cartel is reputed to be the largest source of illegal drugs in the United States.
Its main leader, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, escaped from a Mexican prison in 2001. He is now America’s most wanted drug trafficker, as well as being considered by Forbes as the most powerful criminal on the planet.
More than 77,000 people have been killed in Mexico in connection with organized crime since then-president Felipe Calderon launched a nationwide war against the cartels after taking office in 2006.
It was not clear why the Mexican cartel would have entered the Philippines, but Purisima, said the country’s strategic location and the difficulty of guarding the archipelago’s maritime borders made it easy to infiltrate.
“They are Mexicans and Chinese. There are other nationalities who are here but they are not as well organized. Sometimes they are here for a short time, and sometimes they are part of a bigger organization,” Purisima said. “The investigation is ongoing.”
Police on Thursday asked the Justice Department to prosecute the three arrested suspects for violating illegal drug laws.
The suspects were charged with violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and several other charges.
The police complaint said the three were arrested at around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Christmas Day, inside the LPL Ranch owned by Leviste, who was recently granted parole after being imprisoned for the 2007 killing of his long-time aide Rafael delas Alas.
Police confiscated from the suspects 84 bags of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) worth P420 million, a .45-cal. pistol and a 12-gauge Winchester rifle.
Police said the farm was being leased out by Leviste to a certain Jorge Torres.
The police said the suspects belonged to a large group connected to a Chinese drug syndicate that had been supplying illegal drugs in Metro Manila and in the provinces of Calabarzon and Central Luzon.
It was also revealed that some members of the group are foreign nationals, particularly Chinese and Mexicans.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) called on President Benigon Aquino III to revoke the parole granted to Leviste as a result of the incident.
“Our request is for the President to consider this development because there is a rule where both the lessor and lessee should be held solidarily liable for the mass production of illegal drugs,” Dante Jimenez, VACC founding chairman said.
Jimenez said the President should act on the recommendation submitted by the Justice Department on the parole grant to Leviste.
Leviste was released from the New Bilibid Prison earlier this month after being granted parole by the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP).
The BPP said Leviste had met all the requirements for parole, including serving of minimum period of his sentence for the homicide conviction for the 2007 killing of Delas Alas and good conduct while inside the prison.
Earlier, Leviste was slapped with a case for evasion of service of sentence after he was caught roaming in his LPL building in Makati City in violation of his “living out” privilege in May 2011. A Makati court acquitted him, however, after accepting his defense that he was legitimately outside the prison because he had been given the green light by prison officials. With Francisco Tuyay, Rio N. Araja, Rey E. Requejo and AFP
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